Who is this, you may wonder? Well, this man is a son and a father. An Army veteran and someone's fiance. These are things a person could more easily guess. What might be a little harder to imagine would be that he is a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor, or better yet, a miracle. Every face has a story behind it. Sometimes a person is easy to read or figure out, and other times, we challenge ourselves to understand.
I was born in December in the late 80's on the cusp of dawn in a suite at a small hospital off the coast of a mid-California beach city. The doctors all thought I would be a boy. So convinced were they that my parents had already decided on a boy's name and were caught without a baby girl's name when I surprised everyone.
It was a bitlingly crisp, grey-tinted day on the South Coast of New South Wales - a welcome reprieve from crimson skies, glowing embers and fog-like smoke swirling around our lungs.
As a survivor of extreme sexual, physical and emotional abuse as a child, I allowed what was happening to me to affect me as a teenager and then as an adult. I developed low self-esteem, anger issues and anorexia that almost killed me. I had no one advocate for me after I told my mother what was happening at the hands of her own brother. Her response was I must have been a child abuser in a previous life and I was getting my karma paid back to me for doing that. She did NOTHING to her brother. She actually embraced him. She forced me to endure family get-together's with her brother, I was not allowed to have a voice or an opinion or a childhood. He was sexually abusing my sister and my cousin too but I received the worst from him because I was the fighter. I would kick him and punch him when he touched me. He threatened to kill me several times if I told. He even went so far as to put dead animals in my lunch box to "show me" what he would do to me if I told. He would chase me with running chainsaws like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre character. To this day, hearing a chainsaw gives me anxiety. I finally got away from the sexual abuse when one of the twelve husbands my mother had was transferred out of the country for a government job when I was 13 years old. I had endured torturous abuse from the age of 4 to 13. I could not get over what happened to me and I could not forgive my mother for allowing it to go on as long as it did and doing nothing and not protecting me.
We all have an offensive f*ck in the family. Usually, I ignore the snarky little digs. I ignore the racist jokes. But gay jokes, don't dare say it when I'm in the room.
She was sleeping, she had swept, done the dishes and cleaned the house.He was working late as usual. He walks in kisses her first and says, what's for dinner honey? She serves his plate with a beer on the side. She's still sleepy from waking at 5 am to make him breakfast before he leaves for work. He looks at her and says, did you warm this up? She looks at the food that has been sitting on the stove for hours and realizes she hadn't warmed the food.
“It’s another day of pouring another drink and another day of waiting for love.” Zenei murmured, twisting and killing the last cent of his cigarette in the ash tray, over filling with his past drags. The Uncle would always pour his thoughts into the ash tray. Each puff, a piece of wisdom finding peace. Ben Geinon, his delighted nephew would often find himself the victim of Zenei’s company, and although it was overwhelming at times, it soothed the soul.
Well a few things have happened. I'm not actually sure where to start.
Unless you’ve walked in the shoes of a caregivers of patients with brain disorders, you can never truly relate to this journey. This journey is really about the reality world of these patients. It’s about speaking Alzheimer’s. It’s about discerning the language of the patient with dementia. It’s about understanding, that this disease is so much harder on the patients than you can even imagine. Sure, caregivers have struggles but we are blessed to have sound and healthy minds. Imagine for a moment, listening to gibberish in your mind telling you a million things at one time. Imagine being disoriented, unbalanced trying to figure out what’s going on in your head and trying to figure out why you cannot explain what’s happening to you, when you know something isn’t right. Imagine being frightened, wanting someone to understand you, help you, protect you but you can’t bring yourself to trust anyone because you don’t recognize trust and don’t know how to ask for help.